from The Path of Transformation by Shakti Gawain.

Excerpted from The Path of Transformation by Shakti Gawain. Copyright © 2000 by Shakti Gawain. All rights reserved.

What Is Your Vision of the Future?

In this book we will be exploring our thoughts, feelings, fears, and visions about our own personal futures, and the future of our world. To begin our exploration, I'd like to invite you to do the brief exercise that follows. The purpose of this exercise is to help you get in touch with some of your own thoughts and feelings before reading what I have to say.

So before you read further, I'd like to ask you to take a few moments, read through the following exercise once, then close your eyes and try it. (If you prefer not to do this, that's fine just go on to the next chapter.)

Sit comfortably in a quiet place. If you wish, have a pen and paper or your journal within easy reach. Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths. Take a moment to relax. Then ask yourself, "What is my vision of the future? How do I feel about it?"

First, focus your attention on how you see, think, and feel about your own personal future. How do you imagine your future prospects in your career, your finances, your relationships, your family, friends, your physical health and fitness (including how you feel about your aging process), and your overall personal well-being?

Just sit quietly and note whatever thoughts, feelings, and images come up for you. Try to be very honest with yourself and acknowledge all the thoughts and feelings you have about these things, both positive and negative. Some of your inner responses to these questions might seem contradictory or confusing. For example, you might simultaneously have both positive and negative feelings about the same thing. That's perfectly natural and quite okay. Just acknowledge the full range of your feelings.

Now, expand your focus to imagine the future of your community, your country, humanity, the natural environment, the planet. Just notice the images, thoughts, and feelings that come to you when you ask yourself to imagine the future of the world. Again, try to be as honest as you can, and don't worry if your inner responses seem somewhat contradictory or confusing. For example, you might find yourself thinking, "There's so much potential for positive changes ... but I wonder if we will destroy ourselves before we get a chance to make those changes!"

When you feel complete with the exercise, open your eyes. If you wish, take your pen and paper or your journal and write down as much as you can about what came to you as you imagined your personal future and the future of our planet. If you prefer, use colored pens or crayons and draw your images and feelings.

Facing the Future

Humanity is in an ongoing process of conscious evolution. At this time, we are taking a giant step in consciousness - a great leap in our evolutionary process,

How do you feel about the future? If you are like most of us, you may find yourself having very mixed feelings when you consider that question.

If you are an especially optimistic person, or happen to be having a particularly good day, you might imagine a bright, glowing future for yourself and for all of us. If you're a more cynical or pessimistic person, or if you are having a difficult day, you may foresee a dim or dark future for yourself and others.

I've found, however, that most people who are asked this question, myself included, experience at least some conflicting feelings. On one hand we feel hope, excitement, a certain fascination with what the future may bring. On the other hand, we feel some doubt, fear, perhaps even dread or despair. Oftentimes we feel a deep confusion and helplessness about what to do. We barely know how to effectively address our own personal problems, much less the gigantic problems we see out there in the world.

It is entirely appropriate that so many of us are experiencing this mixture of feelings. Nobody would deny that this is a very scary time, perhaps the most frightening time that has ever existed on this planet. Most people are struggling with painful personal problems. Our relationships don't seem to be working the way we think they should. Marriages are falling apart. Children are being abused. Many people are depressed and anxiety ridden, or frustrated, or even violent. A friend or family member (or we ourselves) may be suffering from a disease for which we have no cure. Some of us have no jobs; others are dissatisfied with the jobs we have. Many of us are workaholics who are burning ourselves out. Perhaps we are dealing with our own or a loved one's addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, or other substances or activities.

Shakti Gawain, The Path of Transformation, Part 3

As if all this weren't enough, when we look beyond our personal lives, we see even worse problems. We have wars all over the planet. Many countries are suffering from cruel, repressive governments. The Third World countries are being exploited by the industrialized nations. Economic chaos and disasters are threatening. There is a worldwide threat of terrorism. We have increasing violence in our cities, and homelessness has become a terrible problem. We have a drug epidemic that's out of control. Most frightening of all, we are in the process of destroying the natural environment upon which our lives depend.

It's unpleasant and uncomfortable to face these realities and our feelings about them, so most of us try to focus on other things. Yet, in order to have the courage to confront our personal and planetary problems, and try to solve them, we must first be honest enough to acknowledge the confusing, frightening feelings we may have and how overwhelming it all seems. The first step we must take in dealing with any challenge is to acknowledge what it is and how we feel about it. It is only through facing our fears and difficulties that we can find creative and effective solutions.

If our personal lives are so difficult, and the world is in such a mess (reconfirmed every evening on the news), why should we feel anything except despair? Why feel hopeful at all? The reason is that although this is a frightening time, it is simultaneously the most powerful time that has ever existed on this planet.

Humanity is in an ongoing process of conscious evolution. At this time, we are taking a giant step in consciousness - a great leap in our evolutionary process. It's probably the most exciting event that has ever taken place on this plane of reality. And I believe that on a soul level we have all chosen to be here at this time in order to take part in it. So we've committed ourselves to being here and doing this, we've put our hearts and souls into it, and now we're looking rather anxiously and breathlessly to see whether or not it's going to work! Somewhere, deep inside us, we know what is possible, and we're wondering if we're going to be able to manifest that. It's a big question.

I believe that the answer to that question lies in the hands of every one of us. Through our personal commitment to the process of growth and change, each one of us has the power not only to transform our own life, but to contribute tremendously to the transformation of life on our planet.

Healing Crises in Our Personal Lives

A healing crisis occurs at the point when we have outgrown an old pattern or way of being, but are still unconsciously holding onto that old way because it feels safe and familiar.

As you may have noticed, it often takes a personal crisis of some kind to catalyze real change and growth in our lives. Upon reflection, you can probably remember how a period of great upheaval, filled with confusion an pain -- perhaps triggered by an event such as the death o a loved one, the ending of a relationship, a financial se back or loss of a job, or an accident or illness -- has ultimately led to greater understanding, awareness, and new opportunities in your life. If you look at the lives of people you know, you may very well see the same pattern. Time of chaos and uncertainty can lead to new doors opening especially when we are willing and able to look for the growth opportunities in a situation rather than simply being overwhelmed by outside circumstances.

It is the nature of the human soul to constantly move forward into greater challenge, expansion, and awareness. The primary job of the human personality, however, is to try to survive in physical form and get our physical and emotional needs met as best we can. There are certain parts of our personalities that want to change and grow, recognizing that growing is necessary and beneficial. Other parts of us prefer to cling to whatever has worked for us in the past. These conservative inner voices argue, "We've survived so far, haven't we? Why change something that's working okay?" These are the aspects of our psyches that urge us to stay with old patterns that feel safe and comfortable, rather than risking new things that we're not sure will work.

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The Path of Transformation

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